The Virginia was on a Med cruise during the summer and fall of 1987. She was escorting the Saratoga. A Soviet warship had been following the Saratoga around for a couple of days, and apparently Admiral Boorda had grown tired of the company.

During the day, Admiral Boorda had come to visit his pal Capt. Tom Sheridan. He was lowered onto the Virginia's fantail from a chopper with his usual "plop and roll" entrance. The two hatched a plan that day that they believed would allow the Saratoga to escape the Soviet tail. The plan went like this.. When night fell, the Virginia would pile a bunch of burnable materials on the fantail near the ABLs. Virginia sailors would then light the material, and act out a charade where the crew would pretend the fire was unplanned and then fight the fire. The plan then was for the Saratoga to slip away while the Soviet warship stuck around to see how the Virginia made out.

The Virginia's crew was informed of the ruse, and when night fell, just about everybody who wasn't on watch was topside smoking and coking. The burnable materials were then piled up in barrels on the fantail and lit afire. A group of Hull Techs then fought the "fire" as the highly entertained crew watched.

Later, we were told the Soviet warship followed the Saratoga when she left the area. Was it that the slight of hand was given away when the entire crew was seen topside that evening, or was it that the Soviets weren't dumb enough to stick around a nuclear cruiser with a fire burning next to her ABLs?

Clifford Berry
MM2(SW) RL Division

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